Hobson’s Choice (1954)

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Length: 1Hr 47

Rating: PG

About: Henry Hobson (Charles Laughton), a British widower, is the overbearing owner of a shoe shop. His three daughters — Alice, Vicky and Maggie (Brenda De Banzie) — work for him and all are eager to get out from under his thumb. When the headstrong Maggie announces she intends to marry Henry’s best employee, Will (John Mills), father and daughter engage in an intense showdown. As Maggie works on launching a competing business, she also helps her sisters free themselves of their domineering father.

Hit

John Mills is always a pleasure to see on screen and no more so than when his character makes such development as Will. From the meek and aimless to confident and achieving, it’s quite a heat-warming story.

The father, Henry, makes for some of the film’s funnier scenes. Him chasing the moon never fails for gain a chuckle and I will always love how Maggie orchestrates the engagement of her two sisters to the men of their own choosing.

I love Maggie. She knows what she wants, what she doesn’t and stands for no shit. At the heart of this film are characters you relate to and she is no exception. Maggie is able to be headstrong and independent without coming across as cold or bitchy.

Miss

Not so much a miss, but more that this is a film of its time and the plot doesn’t hold up as a form of entertainment. As a 33 year old woman, I don’t like 30 year old Maggie being told she’s too old to marry and that she’s ‘too ripe’. But, it runs deeper than that; the misogyny present in this film is what sets a lot of the plot in motion; something that would not stand today.

Maybe

While I love headstrong Maggie and her wish to get from under her father’s thumb, if the genders were reversed people would put this out to pasture as Me Too propaganda. The only reason why this sort of plot works, is because it’s a work of fiction. In reality, Will would have told her to fuck off.

Because there’s no set up that shows that she has feelings for him, it loses some of its charm and romance. While the chemistry between them makes the start forgivable, I would have liked to have seen a hint of her feelings before hand.

Final Thoughts

I always think of this film fondly. Even with the flaws, I still love it. Today, being full of cold, it provided some comfort knowing the last time I’d watched it was with my mum.